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Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Rutgers Environmental Stewards]

D&R Canal State Park

Bull's Island Restoration

Host Agency Info:
Name: Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, Bulls Island Recreational AreaAddress: 2185 Daniel Bray Highway, Stockton NJ
Phone: 609-924-5705
Supervisor Name: Stephanie Fox
E-mail of supervisor: dnrnaturalist@verizon.net
Nature of Host Agency (circle):                         Government

Project Description:Riparian Restoration at Bulls Island Recreational Area, Phase 1

PROJECT START DATE: JULY 2010 - The Bull’s Island Recreation Area of the D&R Canal State Park is defined by the river on one side and the canal on the other. The 79-acre island is subdivided into three areas, two of which are devoted to office and maintenance buildings, parking, bridges, and campsites. The third is a forested 34-acre state designated Natural Area, which occupies the southern end of the island. This natural area is well documented by NJ Audubon and others as a hot spot for spring migrants, particularly warblers, and a valuable nesting site. The pedestrian bridge at the site provides nesting sites for swallows, including the rare rough-winged swallow, and these birds plus migrating waterfowl are a draw for avid birders.  Bird populations have been declining, however, and habitat degradation from invasive non-native species incursion is a major contributor to this decline. Flood scouring has opened much of the northern end of the river side of the island to possible alien plant invasion, making this site especially promising for proactive riparian restoration and erosion control.

The proposed riparian restoration project will restore approximately 5 acres of upland and palustrine forested and scrub/shrub habitat by controlling invasive Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) and Japanese hops (Humulus japonicus) and planting native trees and shrubs.  The project is located at Bulls Island  Recreational Area in Hunterdon County, New Jersey on the Delaware River. The park, like many areas along the Delaware River, is being colonized by Japanese knotweed and other invasive species.  Currently there is at least 5 acres in different patches that are monocultures of Japanese knotweed and Japanese hops.  In order to control these invasives, two herbicide treatments with a glyphosate-based herbicide are recommended in the fall of subsequent years.  Herbicide treatment is recommended to obtain initial control of invasives.  Mowing or cutting may be required in mid-July reduce vegetative height to make herbicide application more effective. 

In the spring of the third year, trees and shrubs will be planted in the project sites to provide competition with the invasives.  The riparian buffer would be planted with native species possibly including dogwood (Cornus spp.), river birch (Betula nigra), willow (Salix spp.), pin oak (Quercus palustris), arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum), winterberry (Ilex verticillata), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), red chokeberry (Pyrus arbutifolia), and buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).  Some spot treatment may be required in subsequent years to ensure that the invasives do not reinvade the project area. 

In addition a scoured area along the Delaware River will also receive treatment for invasive species (as indicated above), but will be planted at year one to control erosion and quickly revegetate this area previously impacted by floodwaters.  Possible trees/shrubs include sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)  and red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea).

We would be interested hosting a volunteer to help with this project. The volunteer’s duties would include removal of the Japanese Knotweed within the Bulls Island Natural Area in mid-July.  The volunteer would also be charged with the planting and follow up maintenance of native flora along the scoured shoreline of the Delaware River.  

Nature of anticipated impact :     Environmental

Evaluation Plan:
The volunteers work will be evaluated by the park naturalist. Evaluation will be based on completion of removal of knotweed and proper planting of native species.

Learning Objectives in plan:

Learned objectives will include the effects of invasive species on native forest landscapes, techniques on removal of invasive species and how to restore the forest with regionally native flora species.